The initial idea for this screendance site specific project began with a collaboration with Dr Olu Taiwo at Winchester University, continued at a residency run by Mediamatic in Amsterdam and was finally filmed at a Welsh Independent Dance workshop with dancer Caroline Sabin and the production company Widelode.
Throughout this period I had been investigating ways of producing dancefilm that visibly incorporate objects used in film production - items that are normally invisible to the audience, including lenses, leads and monitors. Visually questioning film/dance divides and merging of the peripheries of the two art forms on screen was realised in live, as well as recorded works. In part influenced by Bill Viola’s thoughts on seeing and sight, the concept of the camera lens trapping an image and enabling an audience to experience that image via a single eye, as opposed to the eyes of many in a live setting can be challenging for artists involved with this form. I began to use glass spheres positioned in front of the camera which created a disorted yet super wide angle that the dancer could manipulate themselves. One outcome was Penpynfarch – shot at night in a river, in a Welsh valley, where the impact of the location, the presence of the lens and a second monitor that the dancer could see, resulted in this short piece. Subsequently, these concepts and ideas were developed into a series of live performances at the Kube gallery called ‘Looking Glass’, with dancer Cathy Seago.
Penpynfarch was screened at Chapter House Gallery’s cinema in August 2008, accompanied by a number of works using the sphere shot earlier in the same workshop. This was followed by a discussion attended by other artists, directors, dance film makers, and producers of moving image work.
Penpynfarch was also screened at the Kube Gallery (formerly The Study Gallery), Edinburgh Festival and at New Greenham Art Gallery. The project was supported by Bournemouth University, Welsh Independent Dance and the The Kube Gallery, Dorset.